Campbell House: a beginning

img_0388The start of every season brings about a new beginning. Over the last 118 years our Historic Campbell House has seen hundreds of beginnings. From the beginning of Helen Campbell’s marriage to William Powell in front of the Gothic sandstone fireplace in 1917 to the beginning of Campbell House cook Hulda Johnson’s romance with the milkman Lewis Olsen at the back kitchen door. It has seen the Eastern Washington State Historical Society grow and blossom into the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture  which is now 100 years old itself and displaying it’s newest exhibition Lost Egypt. Therefore it has been a pleasure over the last four months to be witness to the Campbell House getting her own beginning again, for the first time in 25 years.

Her windows are shining with new UV protective screens that will preserver her interior for decades to come so that, like the 116 eyes of second and third graders from Hamblen Elementary that drank in every inch of her Victorian design during yesterday’s field trip, thousands more will be able to explore her 13,000 square feet of 19th century time warp. She is adorned with a new cedar roof still orange with the glow of a new home. We can see Campbell house now through the eyes of Grace and Amasa Campbell as they rode up her front drive that first day in 1898 and took in their
new life in Spokane for the first time.img_0390

Campbell was from small beginnings himself. The 10th child born to a newly widowed mother struggling to make ends meet in Salem Ohio , 1845. His fortune didn’t find him until his forties. Campbell had changed his stars, investing in lumber, railroads, and the northern Idaho mines. Here they were the nouveau riche and the owners of a 32 room mansion in a neighborhood of elites. What a sight it must have been for him.

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Now as we look forward to a new season as a Museum we find ourselves refreshed. While our road to cultural significance is not without bumps and bruises, we as a museum family cherish our time honoring the memories of the past and preserving the remnants left to us. Campbell House is open and thriving more than a century after its conception. As we approach the beginning of the holiday season its rooms will be alive with event after event celebrating its past and future.

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